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Best comics of April 2022: Captain America, Wonder Woman, Sandman, Spider-Man & more
This April, we got some new takes on classic heroes, and much more.
Every month in the comics world brings with it a host of new takes on classic superheroes, and original genre stories set outside the superhero realm, but even with that in mind, April felt particularly packed. Over at Marvel we got the launch of new stories starring both Captain America and Spider-Man, while DC Comics gave us the next chapter in an incredibly ambitious reimagining of the history of the Amazons and a new take on a classic Sandman villain. Plus not one, but two excellent new vampire stories, the next volume in one of the best crime comics on the stands, a love story set amid a literal tug-of-war, and much more.
So, from superhero spectacles to indie imaginings, these are the best comics we read in April.
Amazing Spider-Man #1
I've seen some jokes this past week about how many new Amazing Spider-Man first issues we've gotten in the 21st century so far, but honestly, if you come roaring out of the gate with a great creative team and a story like this one, I have no complaints about that. This time around, it's writer Zeb Wells and artist John Romita Jr.'s turn to hit the ground running with Peter Parker's story, setting the stage in grand fashion with a central mystery that has Peter on the outs with his friends, lining up a confrontation with Tombstone, and much more. It's a jam-packed fresh start with that great JRJR art. What more could you ask for?
Wonder Woman Historia: The Amazons #2
Wonder Woman Historia: The Amazons is one of the most jaw-droppingly beautiful books on the stands right now, not just in terms of art but in terms of the lyrical, mythic language employed by writer Kelly Sue DeConnick. Issue #2 follows Hippoltya's adventures in the world of men, seeking out the women who saved her and forming her own tribe along the way, and this time around Gene Ha handles art duties for yet another stunning piece of Wonder Woman myth-making. DeConnick's scripting is the stuff that epics are made of, and Ha's painterly, almost Frazzetta-like compositions add a sumptuous, deeply emotional quality that makes it all the more worth getting lost in.
Blood Stained Teeth #1
Christian Ward has long been one of the most exciting artists in comics, and it's been a thrill to watch him lean more into writing over the past few years. This month, Ward and artist Patric Reynolds launched Blood Stained Teeth, a new horror-crime series about vampires, specifically a "vampire-for-hire" who'll turn humans over to his side for the right price. It's a promising idea with a gorgeous sense of worldbuilding, but the first issue paid off in ways even all the great previews didn't prepare me for. This is a beautiful, savage, bloody thrill of a debut.
West of Sundown #1
Speaking of fantastic new vampire stories this month, we've got West of Sundown #1 from writers Tim Seeley and Aaron Campbell and artist Jim Terry. A historical vampire Western of sorts steeped in all the worldbuilding and clever design that requires, it's the story of a vampire woman who finds that her home in New York City is no longer safe, and so must embark on a journey back to her homeland in New Mexico. That's the basic narrative direction, anyway. Within that framework, the creative team builds a fascinating study of a very particular time in American history, and crafts an intriguing new monster that I can't wait to follow into more issues.
Captain America #0
Later this year, Marvel's launching dual Captain America series, one for Sam Wilson and one for Steve Rogers, and they previewed both with this packed zero issue from writer Tochi Onyebuchi, Jackson Lanzing, and Colin Kelly, with art by Mattia De Iulis. I love comics that have no time for preamble, that simply launch right into some kind of superheroic chaos from the very first page, and this is one of those comics. It's Sam and Steve vs. Arnim Zola and his world-changing rocket experiment, and the higher that rocket rises, the more fun the story gets. I loved this book, and I'll be checking out both new Cap comics when they launch.
The Sandman Universe: Nightmare Country #1
Leave it to James Tynion IV to expand upon the mythology of The Corinthian in a way that feels both frightening and deeply human. The writer of Something is Killing the Children and The Nice House on the Lake teamed up with artists Lisandro Estherren and Yanick Paquette for this first chapter in a brand-new Sandman story, and the result is a beautiful descent into a very relatable darkness. Even if you haven't been deeply embedded in the Sandman Universe expansion of the last several years, this is an essential piece for any fan of the original book.
Love and War #1
There's something really, achingly beautiful about setting a romance comic in the world of competitive tug-of-war, and Love and War absolutely knows what it's doing in that regard. The new series, written by Andrew Wheeler with art by Killian Ng, is set in a world in which two rival schools must compete for tug-of-war supremacy, all while the book's hero is torn between the sport he's devoted to and the boy he thought he had something with. It's got loads of romance manga flavor, a beautiful heart, and art that evokes all the yearning and angst that goes with this kind of story. It's a gem that I hope people keep discovering.
Naughty List #1
I'm not often a fan of dark takes on the Santa Claus story, so it should really tell you something about how entertaining Naughty List is when I decide to put it on this list. Written by Nick Santora with art by Lee Ferguson, the book reimagines Santa as a cynical but principled guy cursed with immortality after one wish gone very wrong, then examines what happens when a guy like that sets his mind to revenge. It's witty, it's cleverly structured, and it's full of intriguing inventions that put an interesting twist on the Santa legend. I'm very excited to see where this book goes next. Looking ahead down the movie calendar, this could also be a fun primer for David Harbour's John Wick-esque Santa action pic Violent Night.
The Ghost in You: A Reckless Book
Every time writer Ed Brubaker and artist Sean Phillips release a new Reckless book, I get excited. The crime series set in 1970s and 1980s Los Angeles is one of the best things this consistently great team has ever done, but even among the other installments, The Ghost in You feels special. Instead of spending time with their title character, the focus turns to his assistant and best friend, Anna, who digs into a mystery of her very own involving a spooky mansion, a retired horror host, a missing dog, and much more. It's just as rewarding as the other Reckless books, but with an expanded view on the story that absolutely delighted me. I'd read a whole other series just about Anna's time in the spotlight.